01: Although anti-gambling initiatives by religious groups have met with few recent successes in the U.S., attitudes against gambling are strongly associated with other social positions that are influenced by religion.
In the Public Perspective (January/February), the journal of the Roper Center of Public Opinion and Polling, John M. Benson and other researchers analyze recent surveys and find highly religious people, regardless of denominational preference, to be significantly less likely than the less religious to take pro-gambling positions, by a range of 22 to 42 percentage points. For instance, highly religious people were less likely to approve of casino gambling in general (23 percent to 65 percent).
Further analysis found that anti-gambling attitudes show a “remarkable similarity” and were highly correlated with taking conservative positions on abortion, stem cell research, physician assisted suicide and homosexuality. Benson and colleagues conclude that even though gambling has become a big business and was not a major issue in the 2000 presidential campaign, conflicts over the issue will not likely go away, particularly at the state level. It may just “re-emerge on the national stage as part of a broader discussion of values.”
(Public Perspective, 341 Mansfield Rd., Unit 1164, Storrs, CT 06269-1164)
02:Recent figures confirm the fact that church giving continues to drop — a trend that may have intensified since Sept. 11. The Washington Times (Jan. 18) reports that recent figures from Empty Tomb, a research group on church giving, shows that people are giving 2.5 percent of their annual net income — a drop of 17 percent from the 3.1 percent people were giving back in 1968.
Parachurch ministries, in particular, are reporting a drop in contributions since Sept. 11, according to Charisma magazine (February). Groups such as Focus on the Family and concerned Women for America reported 25 percent and 56 percent drops in giving respectively since the attacks. Empty Tomb has found that Christian giving to charities outside of the congregation has declined the most since the 1960s.
(Charisma, 600 Rhinehart Rd., Lake Mary, FL 32746)
03: The presence of ethnic minorities is fueling the growth of churches in London, according to recent attendance and population figures. Quadrant (January), the newsletter of the Christian Research Association, reports that church attendance grew in those seven districts (out of 358) and five boroughs (out of 33) of London with the highest percentage of ethnic minorities.
The newsletter cites the example of Brent, whose percentage of ethnic residents rose from 45 percent in 1991 to 57 percent in 2000. Church attendance during that period had increased 13 percent in 1998, resulting in one-sixth (16 percent) attending church on Sunday; that’s more than double the national average of 7.5 percent, and the third highest in the country.
(Quadrant, Vision Bldg., 4 Footscray Rd., Eltham, London SE9 2TZ UK)
04: Hindu youth in the Netherlands, even those who are foreign-born, may be taking their cues more from the surrounding secular Dutch culture than from their own families, suggests a recent survey.
Hinduism Today magazine (January-March) cites a survey conducted among 305 Dutch Hindu youth (ages 12-29), most of whom were either born in Surinam or their parents had immigrated from the South American country. A majority of the youth did not know which branch of Hinduism to which they belonged, and only one-fourth knew of such standard Hindu texts as the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita, which are both popular in Surinam.
Only seven percent agreed that their parents are capable of deciding their marriage partner. This is noteworthy because most of the parents “still believe they are the most capable of choosing the right partner for their children,” says researcher Chandersen Choenni, who conducted the survey.
(Hinduism Today, 107 Kaholalele Rd., Kapaa, HI 96746-9304)